Laying worker hive with queen present
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Spokane County, Washington, USA

    Default Laying worker hive with queen present

    Today I found one of my hives to be a laying worker hive. Funny thing is that the queen (last year summer queen) was still there and appeared to be healthy.

    There is no doubt the hive was laying worker. Several eggs in each cell, very spotty brood, all of it drones, diminishing and listless population. I have been noticing "something wrong" with this colony for about 2 weeks, but when I checked, the queen was there each time. But hive activity was dimenishing, and foraging had just about ended. The population was about 2 frames when I checked today.

    So, I shook them out, and pinched the queen. I don't have a strong enough donor hive to try to fix the problem. I thought about putting the queen in a nuc with some staff (just to see what would happen), but again the donor hive problem.

    I was caught by surprise by this, as the queen has been there every time I looked. I thought she would get going, but apparently not.

    How common is this?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada

    Default Re: Laying worker hive with queen present

    On two occasions I have seen something similar. I interpret it as the queen becoming quite quickly sterile but continuing to lay what will become drones. By the time the workers start supercedure cells they contain drones. At this stage the workers do not start cells on a donated frame of brood from another colony.

    On the first occasion the workers did not become laying workers (at leas not to any great extent) before the queen disappeared. After I tore down their drone bearing "queen" cells they then started viable queen cells on another donated frame.

    I find when dealing with something unusual like that it is easy to get wrapped up in conjecture and confusion when things dont seem to fit the rules of what should be so

    I am diddling around with another similar colony trying to nurse it along till I have queen cells ready to go. (Drones not flying yet) Should have shaken it out but curiosity has the better of me.

  4. #3

    Default Re: Laying worker hive with queen present

    Quote Originally Posted by bushpilot View Post
    I thought about putting the queen in a nuc with some staff (just to see what would happen)
    I think you made the right call not doing so. Odds are that the queen had failed. Taking resources from another hive would likely have been a waste of those resources.
    Good decisions all around, in my opinion.
    PS How common is this? I haven't seen it first hand but suspect it is somewhat common. Queen failures are pretty common and the failure to successfully replace her is also common.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

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